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Paolo Lucchetta + Retaildesign

In a global world commercial architectures have for some time taken on a uniform character, a fate some have tried to elude through stylistic ploys, celebrity architects and aesthetic experiments. Awareness of this state of affairs has been influenced essentially by two original definitions. The first is the “non-place” coined by Marc Augé. In contrast to what Augé calls anthropological places, non-places are all those spaces - including commercial areas - with no identity, devoid of human engagement or history. Non-places are spaces where the paths of individuals cross but do not meet. They are the product of a society of excess, where historic places are not embraced but rather placed on the sidelines and dubbed as “curiosities” or “objects of interest”. Non-places focus exclusively on the present. They are synonymous of our era; everything about them is precarious, improvised and transitory. They are characteristic of our solitary individualism: people pass through non-places but do not live there. The second definition is by Rem Koolhaas. His term “junkspaces” describes the architecture of commercial spaces as little more than gypsum board incubators containing moving staircases and air conditioning plant: spaces that destroy the very significance of buildings. In support, however, of those of us who see opportunities when commerce and culture inter-relate, places can also be defined in light of the relationships they trigger within their particular geographical and social context and not just by their specific individual or aesthetic features. This is what is behind Kengo Kuma’s seminal essay “Anti-object” where he comes out against self-referential, “coercive” architecture that seeks to stand out from its natural context. “Buildings that deliberately seek distinction from their environment - says Kuma - are very different from those that try and mitigate their isolation. The difference is perceptible to all those who use them”. The Ambasciatori Bookshop is...

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